Walk near Appletree Self Catering Cottage
Setting Out (2 cars required)
On 17th November 2016 we took the autumn air and had a glorious walk across Cameron Muir back to Appletree Luxury Self Catering Cottage, Croftamie in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
For this walk it is useful to have two cars. We used the first car to avoid a trapse along a bit of main road and parked it at Finnich Toll, about a mile from Appletree Cottage along the road to from Croftamie in the Glasgow Direction
Having parked the car, we crossed the main road and took the rough track heading west. This track has gentle rises and falls and apart from being unsurfaced is an easy walk. The track has been recently upgraded to carry the occasional forestry timber lorry from the wood a couple of miles away to the main road we had just left. We encountered no such lorries but it is worth keeping an ear out for them none the less.
For the first part the track has a gentle rise - up to the point where the track up to the TV mast joins it (see previous blog) There are fantastic panoramic views of Drumgoyne and the Campsie Fells to the south east as the road rises up to its summit. . Then after a bit of level there is a gentle descent. At the bottom of the decent we could see a section of the old road which had been bypassed by a new straight section over a burn. There is an almost continuous stone wall in various states of repair running continually along the north side of the road.
Ruined Mill by the Carnack Burn
Shortly after this another track joins the road on the left which is worth a look, It took us down a short route to the bank of the Carnack Burn and a ford across the river. On the right on the way down to the burn are the remains of what is thought to be an early mill. Looking upstream there is a small waterfall. When the sun is poking through the dense foliage the spot has a magical feel to it.
Back up on the main track we continue along our route. The road was an early drovers' route used when taking their cattle and sheep east towards Stirling.
As the road begins to rise again we passed the Black Wood on the right - a few acres of mixed woodland. Just as the Black Wood starts a dirt track to the left leats to quite an impressive bridge over the Carnack Burn. On the other side of the Black Wood the road is still gently rising and now the views over Loch Lomond open up with a grand vista from the Luss Hills on the left, past Conic Hill to the Fourth Valley on the right. The higher we went the more impressive it became.
Mist over Loch Lomond
The weather had been very cold and an eerie mist was beginning to rise over Loch Lomond and gently creep over the surrounding countryside. The hight of this mist was impressive as it towered above Drumglass (aka The Dumpling) at the foot of the loch. As we road rose further, Appletree Cottage and Shandon Farmhouse moved clearly into view. Bleak and bare though the moor looks at this point it was more inhabited in the eighteenth century with the presence of Mid Cameron and Easter Cameron farms. Little of these buildings remains today making them very hard to locate. Those who have tried and left images of the remains on the internet show that for one at least there is little to be seen other than some bumps in the ground.
Near the top of the hill the road forks. A new forestry track goes up the hill to the left. This makes a huge spiral shape in the wood next to you. At time of writing felling operations were underway. Then the felling is not in operation this track forms an alternative of the John Muir way, leading ove the top of the hills via the Whangy to the Carbeth Inn (temporarily closed). The other part of the fork leads straight on and is the old drove road. We continued along this and down the hill to Wester Cameron Farm, taking in the magnificent ever-changing vistas as we progressed.
By Wester Cameron Farm
The rough track across Cameron Muir ends at Wester Cameron Farm where we were back on tarmac again – albeit on a narrow single track road. Immediately after the farm the road dips down and crosses a burn then climbs back up again steeply. In the middle of the next long straight section there is a foot path on the left leading up to a viewpoint high up on Gallangad Muir. Not long after this down we go again to cross another burn then back up a short but steep hill. Not long after this we came to a cross roads. Jamestown straight on, a road to Merkins Farm the left and the right hand turn signposted Croftamie and Gartocharn.
Caldarvan Station and Auchenlarich
We took the latter and walked down the hill to what is the small hamlet of Caldarvan Station. Caldarvan Station (originally called Kilmoronock Station after the parish within which it is situated) was a stop on the Forth and Clyde Railway which ran from Balloch to Stirling. The passenger service ceased in the 1930’s but the line continued to carry freight with this particular section closing in 1959.
At the time we did this walk, we could discern the remains of the platform fence. The old station cottage was still there and undergoing renovation, part of which consisted of removing the years of whitewash paint and returning the building to its original red sandstone appearance.
Caldarvan Station is at the bottom of the hill and the road begins to climb again to a T junction just outside the gates of the crowstep gabled Grade B listed Auchenlarich House. We turned right at this junction (signposted Croftamie) and headed eastwards, still on a very quiet single tracked road. The fields were quiet as much of the cattle (mostly beef) had been taken in for winter shelter and feeding. The hedges were neatly trimmed and autumn colours were everywhere, though the trees were beginning to lose their leaves.
About a mile further on and over a small rise, just after Miekle Finnery farm on the left, we arrived at another T junction. We took the right hand turning, again signposted Croftamie
After about two hundred yards a small hump in the road reminded us that we were crossing the former railway once more. Shortly afterwards at Mavie Mill House the road turns sharp left and letters on the well topiarised hedge on the left read the word “Hello”
After a few more turns in the road horses occupied the fields on either side of the road. One or two were interested and came to greet us.
Return to Appletree Cottage...
Shortly after talking to the horses, a track leads off the road to the right hand side and over a bridge, up into the recently harvested Gartochorrans Woods. (This is a detour for another day!)
We continued along the metalled road, still heading east. After another short gentle rise we are walking alongside the Catter Burn to our right. A sharp left-hand turn takes back over the former railway again. The little cottage here was the former crossing keepers dwelling. The crumbling remains of a former railway wagon was slowly being overwhelmed by nature in the cottage garden.
Another sharp corner to the right and we were on the home stretch. Soon we could see Appletree Cottage in the distance where a warm and welcome cup of tea awaited! The only thing that remained to do was to negotiate which pair of us would get in the second car and retrieve the first car from Finnich Toll.